Earlier we told you that the Belize delegation led by Prime Minister Dean Barrow to Washington DC last week had met with the US Comptroller of Currency, Thomas Curry and the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Another meeting held was with the US Department of Treasury. Prime Minister Dean Barrow reported that out of that meeting, it was reiterated that the US Banks should not use the regulatory bodies as a scapegoat to cease business relations with foreign banks.
“The Treasury wanted it to be made clear that banks should not seek to scapegoat the regulators in the US. All the regulators in the US are doing is to say to them “You know what the regulatory requirements and what the regulatory burdens are. You complain that it’s a little to onerous” and according to Secretary Lew they are looking at that to see how they can lighten the load but they don’t want to lighten the load and thereby sacrifice the effectiveness of the regulatory requirement. The Treasury Secretary made plain that his department would do more to ensure that the critical information generally but in particular with respect to Belize is in fact disseminated in the particular area of the US banking sector that we were interested in.”
Prime Minister Barrow went on to speak on the roles of the local banking institutions and the government’s realization that perhaps they should work towards relations with the smaller banks in tier two which are just as capable in providing the same services.
“All of us globally have a shared interest in making the infrastructure to guard against money laundering and the financing of terrorism as strong, as durable, as resilient as possible. What we have realized as government and for the most part as private sector bankers in this country is that in going after new corresponding banking relationships we perhaps should not be seeking to deal with the top ten US banks because of what I’ve just said for them the business is so miniscule that it’s hard to interest them but there are banks not quite as big, there are even small banks such as the one in New York that can do the job just as well as a big bank. The governor will tell you that all that is required is for a bank to have is a FED wire number in the US and that bank is able to offer the full canopy of correspondent banking relationships. So we will be going after some of the smaller banks that are just as credit worthy and sound and the department of the US treasury has promised to help spread the word so as to encourage banks of that size and banks that are going to be our target banks to in fact do business in Belize.”
The possibility of a collapse in the Belize jurisdiction would surely not be a welcoming situation and with that in mind, the US Department of Treasury has agreed to make it clear that our country is quite sound for correspondent banking relations to be had.
“There was an immediate recognition and declaration that it cannot be in the interest of the US of America for our jurisdictions to be facing collapse ultimately if this corresponding banking relationship slide is not arrested. We feel that the mission was a success, it is still now for us to engage the individual banks that we are seeking to pursue, the private banks in the United States to get them to agree to do business with our jurisdiction it’s hard for the official sector in the US to instruct a private bank to do business with Belize but in making it clear that it is in everybody’s interest that Belize not lose that sort of business and in making it clear that the jurisdiction in Belize is as sound as could be desired.”
Meanwhile Central Bank Governor, Glenford Ysaguirre spoke of perception of the situation may just be one of the biggest challenges in this issue.
“The biggest challenge I think we face in terms of this issue appears to be one more of perception. The uncertainty I think the US banks face as to the consequences of a slip in any transaction as it relates to their compliance requirements is so significant that they are as the Prime Minister explained very skittish about doing business with any particular client or classes of client for that matter and I think the take away that we the Central Bank have from this meeting which is something that is confirmed to us that we were absolutely certain that there was no issue with our jurisdiction and now that we have gotten that confirmed by the Treasury Department, the office of the OCC and the FDIC that we should now seek to leverage that information and that confirmation.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow has committed to be a party at any meetings aimed at establishing banking relations in the United States.